2 Psychologists on Brain Games That Boost Creativity
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2 Psychologists on Brain Games That Boost Creativity

Whether you’re a writer, a marketer or a designer, you know there are some days when your brain is in a groove — and ones where you can barely do anything. Though left-brained folks may be envious of their creative right-brained peers, the truth is, it takes work to come up with magic.

As psychiatrist Dr. Zlatin Ivanov says, innovation is not a gift — it’s actually the skilled implementation of knowledge in new and stimulating ways. “It requires changing up a routine, getting out of our comfort zone and paying attention to the present moment,” he continues.

“It doesn’t matter how well you paint, how beautiful your drawings are or how clear your writing is. Like everything else, being creative is a matter of practice and intention.”

So how can you keep your creativity ever-improving? Believe it or not: by playing games! The act of stepping away from your typical day-to-day responsibilities and challenging your mind through new tasks will boost your genius and imagination. Here, we explain how.

6 types of brain games that boost creativity

  • Brainteasers
  • Video games
  • Strategy games
  • Group activity games
  • Creation games
  • The game of doing nothing

Brain games that boost creativity: Brainteasers

1. Brainteasers

From the simplistic brain teasers that are passed around on the playground (or Facebook) to the super-complicated ones that stump professors at the Massachusets Institute of Technology, Dr. Ivanov says these improve our creative-thinking abilities. These include word searches, look-and-find games, Sudoku, and so on.

“They all usually require you to approach a problem from a new or unexpected angle, thereby using new areas of your brain and opening your thinking up to new possibilities,” he adds.

2. Video games

Though these sometimes get a bad rep for their negative impact, Dr. Ivanov says they can actually have the opposite effect. Rather than being mind-numbing, being engaged in a digital exploration requires you to solve a problem, combat a villain, or move to the next level within the game’s specific set of restrictions.

“Gamers aren’t able to do whatever they want to achieve a goal, and those restrictions force them to get creative about finding solutions,” he continues. “The willingness and ability to find solutions is quintessential to creative thinking.”

3. Strategy games

Good news if you’re a chess fan! Psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. says the game of chess — and other strategy games — are constructed with certain types of patterns that keep recurring. This pushes you to be innovative with every move so that you can outmaneuver your opponent. Because of this, Dr. Thomas says chess players often have increased levels of flexibility and originality than those who don’t partake in that game.

Brain games that boost creativity: Group games

4. Group games

If game nights with your pals are a fun pastime for you, you may be surprised it’s also healthy for your brain. As Dr. Ivanov shares, not only do you enjoy socialization, but shared activities with others forces you to adapt as the situation changes and transforms over time. Think of how much movement and thought goes into Charades, Hide and Seek, Escape Rooms, and so on. As a bonus, group environments tend to boost your mood too, putting you in a more positive mindset to ignite your ingenuity.

5. Creation games

While you may not technically think of cooking, baking, or home decorating as a game, you’re fostering creativity any time you create something. How come? According to Dr. Ivanov, we are taking time to dream, come up with solutions, and visualize the end product. In addition to those ‘chores’ you do daily, drawing, painting, building with LEGOs, playing dolls with children, and so on, all fall in this category.

6. The game of doing nothing

Want to be more creative? Well, do nothing, says Dr. Thomas. As counterintuitive as this sounds, it makes sense given how non-stop life can be. “When people are constantly being exposed to and processing and/or responding to information from the internet, social media, their family and friends, etc., it can be overwhelming and creativity-draining,” she continues.

“Instead, it is important to make at least a little time each day to rest and recharge their minds. By doing so, you can regain more focus, energy, and interest back and tap into your creativity.”

If you play these games, you'll see a significant difference in your #creativity. (And have fun!) Click To Tweet

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Lindsay Tigar

About Lindsay

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29 and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.

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